It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions)

When is a minority not a minority?

NEW YORK, NY – Last year, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit with the federal government to eliminate testing as the sole basis for admissions to top public schools in New York City, such as Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant, since it discriminated against ethnic minorities. They argued that factors such as school grades, teacher recommendations and personal experience be taken into account, which would make the admissions process similar to university admissions. However, the majority of students admitted to these top NYC public schools are ethnic minorities. They’re Asians.

According to the New York Times, approximately 59% of the students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools are Asian. In 1971, the Stuyvesant High School student body was 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, and 6% Asian with the rest being White but is 72% Asian and around 4% percent are Black or Hispanic in 2012. Based on concerns about the lack of test preparation from minority groups, the city initially offered a free test-prep program to Black and Hispanic students and later to all students. However, it was still an issue because the majority of students enrolled in the public test program are Asians.

The Times article exploring this controversy spent considerable time profiling the Asian students who were accepted into the top NYC high schools. One account was about a son of Chinese immigrants who often sacrificed weekends studying for the high school entrance exam. He rarely saw his parents because they worked long shifts.

Other Asian students profiled came from families that either lived in Third World conditions or emigrated from countries experiencing violence. These families managed to pool their limited resources to ensure their kids had the time and money needed to do well in school and pass the high school entrance exam.

Although the writer made efforts to show these students made sacrifices and worked hard to be in these schools, he also made a point of emphasizing their “foreignness”. In the same article, the writer quoted Jerome Krase, a professor emeritus in sociology at Brooklyn College, suggesting Asian students are culturally obligated to do well since “[They] hold the honor of the family in their hands“, which implies they are different from Americans.

Moreover, the interviews with non-Asian parents were critical of the current admissions process. One parent agreed with expanding admissions to consider more than just the entrance exam results while another parent felt that it was abnormal for students to sacrifice weekends just to prepare for the entrance exam. Despite these criticisms, both parents have children who are preparing for the entrance exam.

While it is true that Asians make up the majority of students in the top specialized high schools in New York City, other groups such as Blacks, Hispanics and Whites also successfully passed the tests. Instead of just profiling Asian students and emphasizing their ‘foreignness’ and their family’s limited links to American culture, the writer should have also profiled Black and Hispanic students who successfully passed the exam to show that success is not limited to Asians.

Interviewing parents of successful Black or Hispanic students would give readers ideas of how non-Asian parents and their children worked around their respective challenges to succeed since they might be more relatable to readers than the Asian students and families profiled in the article. As a result, the article appears to perpetuate the idea that Asians are undermining the perceived character of New York City’s top public schools and unintentionally promoting tensions with other ethnic groups in the city due to their “foreign values”.

Another area the writer should have explored is the root cause for test prep programs.

It is strange that students have to enroll in test preparation programs to prepare for a high school admission exam that supposedly tests students on items they should have learned in the city’s primary and middle schools. If the primary and middle public schools are properly teaching their students, then there should not be a disparity between students enrolled in test prep programs and those that are not since the exam is based on things they should have learned in school.

Sadly, these disparities suggest there is an issue with the quality of public school education in the city, not of the race of students in the city’s top high schools.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund believes that changing the current admissions process into a holistic process would solve the problems with the current system that allegedly gives wealthier families an advantage due to their abilities to get better test preparation. However, this change would actually harm many poor immigrant Asian families and may not necessarily help the intended Black or Hispanic students in high school admissions.

If the city switches to a holistic approach, wealthier parents would still find ways to ensure their children have the means to join extracurricular activities, enroll in better primary or middle schools for improved grades, hire admissions counselors to develop strong admissions essays, and still send their children to test preparation programs. The less well-off, regardless if they are Black, Hispanic and Asian would still be at a disadvantage in the admissions process just like for university admissions. Most of all, in the midst of this controversy, the status quo for many wealthy families and their children would still be preserved.

Read more at TLR: It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions) | The Libertarian Republic http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/ok-discriminate-asians-high-school-admissions/#ixzz2jk3XymkV
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The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

The Publicis Omnicom Groupe Merger is Great for Advertising!

So this weekend in the ‪#‎adlife‬, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe announced they will merge into a creatively named holding company called Publicis Omnicom Groupe. What this means is that they will become the largest advertising holding company eclipsing WPP and leaving IPG and Havas behind.

From the company’s point of view, this will be a win-win with their increase in overall market share, synergies between formerly competing shops/agencies, and increased efficiencies. In other words, this will suck for the average ad professional since there will just be an illusion of choice when switching shops, possible redundancies due to consolidation, and aggressive cost-cutting in reduced healthcare and 401k benefits. Regardless, this will be great because it will increase overall ROI for shareholders, result in an increase in freelancers from all the project layoffs, and lower starting salaries due to the glut in freelancers and reduced costs.

On the flipside, this will be a boon for indie shops since they have a chance to steal some business away from the corporate agencies. With the merger, there are now clearer conflicts of interests and less stability for the ad professional, something indie shops could take care if they make the right decisions.

This will also be great for the other holding companies due to the expected increase in freelancers and available talent. With the increase in freelancers due to resignations or layoffs, this means companies can work harder to get contract work at lower rates or lower starting salaries since we all know that a glut in talent leads to lower costs. Also, this merger will get other holding companies such as IPG, Havas or even Dentsu to start thinking about merging or strategic alliances.

All this news about holding companies merging at the corporate level may seen boring and academic, but the short story is that all ad professionals need to start protecting their necks. Whether this means kissing up to the department heads or senior colleagues to get them to protect them or act as their advocates during restructuring time or simply switching jobs before things get bad at the office, everyone is on their own in light of these changes.

This means people who are out of the job will expect to be competing with more freelancers for gigs or will need to pare down their expectations for salaries or benefits. Most of all, everyone needs to get ready for shops being reshuffled, re-branded, realigned and relaunched similar to what WPP did with G2 when they merged it with related shops and relaunched it as Geometry something after severing its links with Grey.

Also, the Asian economies are going to slow down so don’t expect to find work in this side of the world because ad spend if also going down just like in North America and Europe.  Or this could all fail due to anti-trust regulations in the US and EU.

Merger Of Advertising Giants Brings Together Largest Collection Of People With No Discernible Skills

NEW YORK—In a historic announcement that analysts say marks major changes for the advertising industry, senior leadership at Omnicom Group, Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA outlined plans on Sunday to merge the advertising giants into one firm, bringing together the largest collection of people with no discernible skills whatsoever. “With thousands of employees and billions of dollars of assets between them, the consolidation of Omnicom and Publicis will create an intimidating workforce of 135,000 utterly talentless men and women who are not marketable in any industry other than their own and whose jobs add zero value to society at large,” market analyst Mark Goodnough said of the planned $35 billion merger, adding that not a single person involved in the merger has ever made anything with his hands, knows anything about information technology, or is capable of doing quality writing or research. “These two ad behemoths will have the industry’s largest and most formidable talent pool of people called ‘creatives’ who have never created a single thing in their lives and whose only apparent ability is to trick other people.” At press time, over $500 billion was spent on advertising last year.

On Obama vs Obama – The First American Presidential Debate

All this debate hoopla between Willard “Mitt aka Obama 2.0″ Romney and Barack “Socialist Kenyan Muslim” Obama has really gotten out of hand. Sure, I enjoyed the memes about angry Big Birds, the Jim Lehrer incompetence rants, and the fact everyone was getting so worked up on Obama 2.0 supposedly beating Prez Obama to a pulp in last night’s debate.

But to be honest, I was more excited that the New York Yankees are going to the World Series again and how Ben Bernanke‘s QE3+ is causing inflation in Hong Kong. Since QE3+ was announced with the intention of propping up the stagnant American economy until unemployment drops to 5.5% (ROFL), inflation in Hong Kong has increased around 5-10% and the real estate bubble has gotten to the point where the government is getting involved to deflate it. Also, the price of food has increased and the HKD is going to lose more value against the Renminbi.

Note to self: begin splitting half of my HKD holdings in the bank into RMB to hedge against more damage from QE3+.

For all the theatrics and political WWF-style wrestling in the debate, neither Romney nor Obama really said anything substantial. Obama was just being passive as usual while Romney just pulled numbers out of nowhere and made them real with his confidence and photogenic smile. And yes, we now know Romney is a capable multitasker because he was able to both moderate the debate and hand Obama his ass at the same time.

I can say all these things while others are getting worked up over comments on their debate posts to the point of deleting either the comments, posts or even dropping a contact or two because I am not going to vote in November. Yes, I am not going to vote. No absentee ballots, no online voting and no write-ins for you-know-who and that Johnson fellow. Full disclosure, I voted for Obama in 2008 and it didn’t seem to pay off in any way so I am not voting for him or his Obama 2.0 (Romney) tool presented by the GOP. Even if I voted, my vote would be just filtered down to a handful of electoral votes that would go to Obama and my supposed absentee ballot will take its sweet time to pass customs to be added to the totals.

So no, I am not going to vote on November 6th. Conversely, I have no plans to play Halo4 that day either. I am just going to go to work, focus on the work, attend a few client meetings, have lunch with colleagues, and then head home to exercise and read a William Gibson novel or even one from Phillip K. Dick. Not voting on election day by choice will be one of the most American things I will do since becoming a naturalised citizen of the United States of America.

Thank you and I love Big Bird too.

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Earlier this week I caught the flu as a result of being exposed to the typhoon and from heavy use of air conditioners. The symptoms of the flu were different from the typical flu because although I didn’t get the fever, I was having a bad case of an infected throat, coughing, stuffy nose, and a stomach virus. The stomach virus didn’t come out until after I had a traditional Chinese dinner at the grim and gritty part of Kowloon.

When the symptoms started appearing, I was hesitant to go to a nearby clinic since I was uninsured. Instead I went to buy a bottle of Methodex cough syrup and drank hot water in the hopes this would stop the cough. After 2 days, I started getting feverish and decided to go to the local clinic after insistence from my relative. I honestly did not want to go for fear of being price gouged for just a few minutes of meeting with the doctor and for the fear of having to pay a great deal for the prescription medicines.

When I went to see the doctor at the clinic, he was able to diagnose my flu and proceeded to give me a list of medication to fight it. The final bill for the visit was at $240HKD, which is roughly $31USD, and the fee included the prescription medicine. If I had local health insurance in HK, the entire doctor’s fee would be fully covered. It was shocking that I only had to pay around $31 just for a doctor’s visit and prescription medication despite being uninsured. If this was America, I would have to pay around $20 just for the co-pay and then more funds to get the prescription medicine. Otherwise, I would be paying somewhere close to the $100s if I was uninsured.

One more thing to note is that in Hong Kong, the doctors and pharmacists only give the amount of medication prescribed by the doctor. For example, if the doctor only prescribed 3 days’ worth of medicine, the pharmacist would only give 3 days’ worth of medication with the assumption the patient would use all of it within that time. This is not only a way to prevent medication from being wasted but a great way to control costs of prescription medication. In America, doctors would simply prescribe the medicine and the pharmacist would give you the entire package with the assumption the patient would simply stopped using it when all symptoms disappear. The problem with this approach is that the patient is buying unnecessary amounts of medicine and is taking on extra costs instead of just getting exactly what he or she needs per the doctor’s prescription.

Later that week, I started getting abdominal pains and had to go to the hospital to see a doctor. When I arrived, the doctor took the time to diagnose me after waiting for at least an hour, then got the nurse to inject me with anti-viral medication and gave me prescribed medication to fight the stomach virus and pains. At the end of the hospital visit, my bill came out to $580HKD or $$75 for the doctor’s consultation, anti-viral injection and prescription medicine. Also, if I was insured, the majority of this fee would be covered by the health provider with no co-pay. However, if this happened in America, I would be stuck with at least $580USD in doctor’s fees and get hounded by the hospital to pay off the fees as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that I went to a private hospital and I learned that the government hospitals charge no more than $50HKD for treatment despite longer wait times.

So I really am confused by Americans who keep claiming that US healthcare is the “best in the world”, when it simply isn’t true. Whether the healthcare system is managed by the government, such as in Canada or France; or it has a two-tier system with a variety of options such as Hong Kong, these arrangement seem to be far more efficient than what we now have in America. Despite all the sensationalised nonsense from American media about the extremes of state-controlled healthcare or fully private healthcare, people in those places are overall content with their system compared to those in the USA.

I don’t think forcing American taxpayers to pay more taxes for being uninsured and making it mandatory to buy healthcare is the best option. It’s really clear that US healthcare is broken with their medical fees and prescription fees that are nowhere near the real market value of these goods and services. Most of all, it is simply arrogant to believe that Americans do not need to learn how the world implements their healthcare system to actually improve American healthcare on the basis of the big lie that “America is the greatest [insert noun here] in the world”.

Why I support Ron Paul

Last night I attended the Ron Paul Webster Hall grassroots rally as both an attendee and as a volunteer for the NYC Liberty HQ grassroots organisation. There was some issues leading the event, such as Pras being delayed and the last-minute additions of speakers, but overall it went will with a final count is over 1800+ in the audience and reasonable coverage from the national media outlets.

It was not always like this. Back in college, I was passionately against George W. Bush, his collaborators and his War of Terror. The people I met who mindlessly supported Bush did so with the assumption that he could do the following: protect Americans from a terrorist attack, get revenge on so-called “dirty Jesus-hating Muslims” for 9/11, stop Sharia Law from subverting Western Civilisation or because the liberals were pro-Al-Qaeda. The war to supposedly liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqis peace of mind resulted in that country being divided among religious sects, and culture along with reducing the country into a pro-Iranian proxy state.

In 2004, I supported John Kerry with the hope that he would put a stop to all the excesses of the Bush administration that took hold after 9/11 and went to new heights during the invasion of Iraq. Sadly, the majority of Americans backed Bush because they supported his new war against gay marriage, and were still out for revenge over 9/11 despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. It was after the elections I lost faith in Americans, believing them to have a hard-on for simple answers to complicated issues and will simply throw away their vote to anyone who says what they want to hear whether it is a lie or fabrication. It did not even help when many Republicans tolerated voter fraud simply for the sake of keeping their “Patriot” as President.

Bush’s 2004 election by the people was simply depressing. It was as if the entire country had decided to stop thinking and voted out of misguided fears and faith in a backwards and corrupt administration. I once said to a group of my classmates that Bush’s election was going to “Bring the country down to hell” and I even mentioned voting for Hilary in 2008 since I had lost that much faith in America at that time. This questionable election by questionable voters in an already rough period of my college life just made matters worse.

2007 came and I was glad that the bastard George W. Bush was going to leave power after seeding America’s decline during his years in power. I didn’t watch any of the early debates but I kept hearing on the news that the frontrunners for both the GOP and Democrats was going to be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton months before the primary campaigns started. I did not expect much from Republicans at the time so I automatically assumed Giuliani was going to be their nominee while the Democrats would just pick Hillary out of recognition. There was some guy named Barack Obama that seemed intelligent and progressive yet he lacked the influence a Clinton had. In addition, my boss at the time felt that Obama had no chance despite being well spoken and intelligent and implied it was because Americans were incapable of having a “Black President”. Ironically, I had similar thoughts since my expectation for Americans was so low that I did not think they were capable of having an ethnic minority for a President.

Then at one of the debates, a Congressman named Ron Paul got into a heated exchange with “frontrunner” Rudy Giuliani over the root causes of 9/11 and foreign policy. I was shocked to see someone in the Republican Party who actually used reason, persuasion, and logic to explain his views and make a sincere effort to educate the audience and viewers. This was something that was out of the ordinary in an American Presidential debate that usually consists of oversimplified talking points or rants about Islamofascism and 9/11. Many others felt the same way and started their own Ron Paul grassroots campaigns despite having little to no experience in the political process. I was able to find my way to a few of these events in New York City and even voted for the first time in Super Tuesday.

Ron Paul would eventually dropout after the frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, resulting in the nominee being John McCain who won because he was unscathed by his rivals. It was over for the GOP Primary but at the same time, Barack Obama somehow beat Hillary Clinton to secure the nomination as the Democratic Presidential Candidate. To be honest, I really did not follow the Democratic Primaries since I was under the assumption it was going to be Hillary like most Americans and the big media. Because Ron Paul was knocked out, I wanted to punish the GOP for being idiots and for allowing someone like Bush to reduce the country into a cesspool. This was why I voted for Barack Obama like most people who wanted something radically different, make history, and punish the GOP for being stupid.

With a leap of faith, Barack Obama because our next President and a symbol of change that so many needed after nearly 8 years of misrule by George W. Bush. Obama was so popular with the world that the Nobel Prize Committee decided to pass Liu Xiaobo over to prematurely give Obama a Nobel Peace Prize despite being just less than a month on the job. The first 100 days were exciting seeing Obama declare closing the prisons at Guantanamo Bay, getting a stimulus package passed to insulate the American-engineered Global Recession, and wind down the War of Terror.

After those 100 days, I realised nothing was getting better in my life and that very little was actually done despite all the nice speeches Obama made. Some of his fans were rabid fanboys claiming Obama is our generation’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt and that he is the culmination of years of progressive development. I became increasingly disillusioned, realising he was slow to withdraw from Iraq while at the same time escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. I was angry when Obama decided to expand Bush’s TARP bailout programme to mismanaged car companies such as GM and Chrysler. Most of all, what really lost my support was Obama’s need to keep making feel good speeches and allowing his advisers and Congressional counterparts to regularly undermine him instead of asserting himself.

Obama is a very weak President who is so afraid to take bold steps that he prefers to do next to nothing instead of offending anyone. He handpicked advisers that either defied his orders or undermined him, which resulted in administrative deadlock while the entire country continued to suffer. He decided to delegate his defining healthcare reform to Congress instead of leading its development as leader of his party and when he had a majority in Congress. This lack of leadership brought Americans a healthcare reform package resembling Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare reform with its flawed individual mandates and more regulations that increased healthcare costs.

When I keep bringing up all these problems that happened under Obama’s watch, his fans either downplay it or make personal attacks on me. In one instance when I criticised the GM/Chrysler bailout as a plan that rewarded bad management and as a loss for taxpayers, one fan kept making personal attacks claiming that I make a meager income and that I am a disgrace to my university instead of explaining why the bailout was a good plan other than because it was “Obama’s idea”, when that’s not even true. Another fan told me that economics was not a big deal since Obama still has the support of other world leaders and “isn’t Bush” despite ongoing criticisms that the stimulus was misspent or was adding to an already bloated national debt.

Other issues I had with Obama involved his need to keep Guantanamo Bay’s prisons in service, his decision to persecute Wikileaks despite their efforts to expose America’s questionable past and present actions, Obama’s move to renew the PATRIOT ACT, waging war in Libya with NATO assets despite not getting approval from Congress, and his inability to work with Congress on fiscal policy, which resulted in America’s credit downgrade. Although Obama did make some progress in appointing two female minorities into the Supreme Court, improving foreign relations, and “getting” Bin Laden, he failed in translating these achievements into tangible benefits for Americans. In addition, it seemed like despite these missteps, Obama and his fans did not seem to care because they expect everyone to reelect him with the impression that the GOP is incapable of nominating someone who would take him on.

This was true until Gary Johnson first announced his 2012 campaign and later when Ron Paul announced he was also running. I once told a friend that I felt I did not do enough in the 2008 election and that I would be actively engaged in the 2012 election if Ron Paul decided to run again since I was disillusioned with Obama’s lip service to “Hope & Change”. In addition, I told him that I would regret it if I just sat around and allowed the primary elections to result with a lying, shifty personality running against an already disappointing President. With Paul’s official announcement, I began working with the local grassroots movement and taking a role contributing in social media outreach in the NY state and NYC metro area.

I know there are many out there who think the other Republicans candidates are better than Ron Paul is and this is because they believe either the other candidates are a guarantee in helping Obama be reelected or they have serious misconceptions about Dr. Ron Paul. This is something I plan to discuss in a later post.

Not about 9/11

Today is the 10th Anniversary of September 11 in America, and rapper Ludacris’ birthday.  In Chile, it was the day when Allende was overthrown and replaced by Augusto Pinochet with help from the CIA.  Today is another day where they opened the 9/11 Memorial to honour the victims of that day and to show off the in-progress “Freedom Tower”, which in all honestly pales compared to the original towers.  In about 4 years or 2015, the new World Trade Center 1 building or “Freedom Tower” will be ready for commercial use and for tourists.  Seriously, the only people I see around Lower Manhattan are mostly tourists, regularly visiting the mass grave site and the death of the America many of them either hardly cared for or took for granted.

Since that fateful day in 2001, America has exploited this human tragedy to engage in a modern-day crusade against Arabs, to grab more power from the people in the name of security, and to promote a culture of short-term thinking. The War of Terror as it is known in the rest of the world, has resulted in a weak Iraq that is now run by an Iranian puppet, an Afghanistan that is now our version of the Soviet occupation of the country, and it has encouraged average Arab citizens in the region to take matters into their own hands after realising that America does not care for them despite paying lip service over democratic rights.  Since 9/11, the government has now taken more control over the people with the implementation of the PATRIOT ACT that undermines due process, healthcare reform that only benefits the healthcare providers, and blanket bailouts that reward businesses for bad behaviour.  Even worse, is the growing  trend of Americans simply living in the present with the assumption that there is no bright future, which results in actions that are rooted in a narrow worldview.

The one question that we all need to ask is: “Are we better off than we were 10 years ago”? In my view, despite all the advances in electronics, web 2.0, and the fact an ethnic minority can become President in America, overall things are worse than they are a decade ago.  The country called the United States of America is now reaching a breaking point with a government based on “checks and balances” stonewalling the other for fickle votes, an economy that is now becoming increasingly locked into a Lost Decade, and a culture that celebrates people not based on their merits but on their abilities to be vulgar on camera.

All of this hoopla over the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 has reached the point where I stopped caring about it. Yes, 9/11 was a gross human tragedy that was the result of bureaucratic incompetence from both the Federal government and the Bush Administration.  Yes, many people who died that day did not deserve to be attacked by a bunch of confused, ignorant and weak-minded men with ties to an anti-American Saudi named Osama Bin Laden.  Yes, America did have a right to go into Afghanistan to get Al-Qaida and Bin Laden after what had happened in 9/11.  However, all of this was undermined by Bush’s need to exploit the tragedy to invade Iraq for its resources and its strategic location in the Middle East and Bush’s handling of the tragedy, in addition to invading Iraq, only created more distrust towards America and its government.

The oversimplified explanation that 9/11 happened because “Muslims hated America’s Freedoms” was a great answer for many Americans but it fueled distrust and anger from others.  This answer and the general handling of the tragedy was why a “9/11 Truth” movement emerged in response to anger at Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the distrust in government.  Most of these Truthers only believe the conspiracy because they are ignorant of the real science behind the attacks while some are in the movement to protest the Bush Administration or use it to find answers about the attacks on their own terms.  These people are not crazy, loony, or outcasts as the American media portrays them but rather people who are confused, angry, and distrustful of the government and their exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy for political and economic gains.  I think the 9/11 attacks occurred as they were presented but there was most likely a cover-up to mask any instances of incompetence from the Bush Administration in preventing or reducing the real attacks themselves.

The death of Osama Bin Laden should have brought closure to the tragedy on 9/11 but it was used as a cheap excuse to celebrate in the midst of an American decline.  Also, as a result of the poor handling of the Bin Laden Kill Mission by the Obama Administration, people now have started questioning the exact circumstances of the mission, and whether there was any real confirmation of his death.  None of this was made any better by the media’s acceptance of the official account at face value instead of investigating or asking tough questions of what really happened.  The media is also at fault for turning today’s 10-year anniversary into a celebration of sorts when it is nothing but a gross American tragedy that brought the country in the wrong direction at the cost of its people.

Why I refuse to be apathetic in America

“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the liberals,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a liberal.

Then they came for the Muslims,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Muslim.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Charter 08 – 零八宪章

English Version:

I. Foreword

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government’s approach to “modernization” has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called “the greatest changes in thousands of years” for China. A “self-strengthening movement” followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China’s humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China’s system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China’s imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia’s first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both “self-strengthening” and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a “cultural illness” was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of “science and democracy.” Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The “new China” that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that “the people are sovereign” but in fact set up a system in which “the Party is all-powerful.” The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth (Tiananmen Square) Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens' rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

During the last two decades of the twentieth century the government policy of “Reform and Opening” gave the Chinese people relief from the pervasive poverty and totalitarianism of the Mao Zedong era and brought substantial increases in the wealth and living standards of many Chinese as well as a partial restoration of economic freedom and economic rights. Civil society began to grow, and popular calls for more rights and more political freedom have grown apace. As the ruling elite itself moved toward private ownership and the market economy, it began to shift from an outright rejection of “rights” to a partial acknowledgment of them.

In 1998 the Chinese government signed two important international human rights conventions; in 2004 it amended its constitution to include the phrase “respect and protect human rights”; and this year, 2008, it has promised to promote a “national human rights action plan.” Unfortunately most of this political progress has extended no further than the paper on which it is written. The political reality, which is plain for anyone to see, is that China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government. The ruling elite continues to cling to its authoritarian power and fights off any move toward political change.

The stultifying results are endemic official corruption, an undermining of the rule of law, weak human rights, decay in public ethics, crony capitalism, growing inequality between the wealthy and the poor, pillage of the natural environment as well as of the human and historical environments, and the exacerbation of a long list of social conflicts, especially, in recent times, a sharpening animosity between officials and ordinary people.

As these conflicts and crises grow ever more intense, and as the ruling elite continues with impunity to crush and to strip away the rights of citizens to freedom, to property, and to the pursuit of happiness, we see the powerless in our society—the vulnerable groups, the people who have been suppressed and monitored, who have suffered cruelty and even torture, and who have had no adequate avenues for their protests, no courts to hear their pleas—becoming more militant and raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous proportions. The decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional.

II. Our Fundamental Principles

This is a historic moment for China, and our future hangs in the balance. In reviewing the political modernization process of the past hundred years or more, we reiterate and endorse basic universal values as follows:

Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.

Human rights. Human rights are not bestowed by a state. Every person is born with inherent rights to dignity and freedom. The government exists for the protection of the human rights of its citizens. The exercise of state power must be authorized by the people. The succession of political disasters in China’s recent history is a direct consequence of the ruling regime’s disregard for human rights.

Equality. The integrity, dignity, and freedom of every person—regardless of social station, occupation, sex, economic condition, ethnicity, skin color, religion, or political belief—are the same as those of any other. Principles of equality before the law and equality of social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights must be upheld.

Republicanism. Republicanism, which holds that power should be balanced among different branches of government and competing interests should be served, resembles the traditional Chinese political ideal of “fairness in all under heaven.” It allows different interest groups and social assemblies, and people with a variety of cultures and beliefs, to exercise democratic self-government and to deliberate in order to reach peaceful resolution of public questions on a basis of equal access to government and free and fair competition.

Democracy. The most fundamental principles of democracy are that the people are sovereign and the people select their government. Democracy has these characteristics: (1) Political power begins with the people and the legitimacy of a regime derives from the people. (2) Political power is exercised through choices that the people make. (3) The holders of major official posts in government at all levels are determined through periodic competitive elections. (4) While honoring the will of the majority, the fundamental dignity, freedom, and human rights of minorities are protected. In short, democracy is a modern means for achieving government truly “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Constitutional rule. Constitutional rule is rule through a legal system and legal regulations to implement principles that are spelled out in a constitution. It means protecting the freedom and the rights of citizens, limiting and defining the scope of legitimate government power, and providing the administrative apparatus necessary to serve these ends.

III. What We Advocate

Authoritarianism is in general decline throughout the world; in China, too, the era of emperors and overlords is on the way out. The time is arriving everywhere for citizens to be masters of states. For China the path that leads out of our current predicament is to divest ourselves of the authoritarian notion of reliance on an “enlightened overlord” or an “honest official” and to turn instead toward a system of liberties, democracy, and the rule of law, and toward fostering the consciousness of modern citizens who see rights as fundamental and participation as a duty. Accordingly, and in a spirit of this duty as responsible and constructive citizens, we offer the following recommendations on national governance, citizens’ rights, and social development:

1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution, rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China’s democratization. The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party.

2. Separation of powers. We should construct a modern government in which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is guaranteed. We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power. Government should be responsible to taxpayers. Division of power between provincial governments and the central government should adhere to the principle that central powers are only those specifically granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local governments.

3. Legislative democracy. Members of legislative bodies at all levels should be chosen by direct election, and legislative democracy should observe just and impartial principles.

4. An Independent Judiciary. The rule of law must be above the interests of any particular political party and judges must be independent. We need to establish a constitutional supreme court and institute procedures for constitutional review. As soon as possible, we should abolish all of the Committees on Political and Legal Affairs that now allow Communist Party officials at every level to decide politically-sensitive cases in advance and out of court. We should strictly forbid the use of public offices for private purposes.

5. Public Control of Public Servants. The military should be made answerable to the national government, not to a political party, and should be made more professional. Military personnel should swear allegiance to the constitution and remain nonpartisan. Political party organizations shall be prohibited in the military. All public officials including police should serve as nonpartisans, and the current practice of favoring one political party in the hiring of public servants must end.

6. Guarantee of Human Rights. There shall be strict guarantees of human rights and respect for human dignity. There should be a Human Rights Committee, responsible to the highest legislative body, that will prevent the government from abusing public power in violation of human rights. A democratic and constitutional China especially must guarantee the personal freedom of citizens. No one shall suffer illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment. The system of “Reeducation through Labor” must be abolished.

7. Election of Public Officials. There shall be a comprehensive system of democratic elections based on “one person, one vote.” The direct election of administrative heads at the levels of county, city, province, and nation should be systematically implemented. The rights to hold periodic free elections and to participate in them as a citizen are inalienable.

8. Rural–Urban Equality. The two-tier household registry system must be abolished. This system favors urban residents and harms rural residents. We should establish instead a system that gives every citizen the same constitutional rights and the same freedom to choose where to live.

9. Freedom to Form Groups. The right of citizens to form groups must be guaranteed. The current system for registering nongovernmental groups, which requires a group to be “approved,” should be replaced by a system in which a group simply registers itself. The formation of political parties should be governed by the constitution and the laws, which means that we must abolish the special privilege of one party to monopolize power and must guarantee principles of free and fair competition among political parties.

10. Freedom to Assemble. The constitution provides that peaceful assembly, demonstration, protest, and freedom of expression are fundamental rights of a citizen. The ruling party and the government must not be permitted to subject these to illegal interference or unconstitutional obstruction.

11. Freedom of Expression. We should make freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and academic freedom universal, thereby guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right of political supervision. These freedoms should be upheld by a Press Law that abolishes political restrictions on the press. The provision in the current Criminal Law that refers to “the crime of incitement to subvert state power” must be abolished. We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes.

12. Freedom of Religion. We must guarantee freedom of religion and belief and institute a separation of religion and state. There must be no governmental interference in peaceful religious activities. We should abolish any laws, regulations, or local rules that limit or suppress the religious freedom of citizens. We should abolish the current system that requires religious groups (and their places of worship) to get official approval in advance and substitute for it a system in which registry is optional and, for those who choose to register, automatic.

13. Civic Education. In our schools we should abolish political curriculums and examinations that are designed to indoctrinate students in state ideology and to instill support for the rule of one party. We should replace them with civic education that advances universal values and citizens’ rights, fosters civic consciousness, and promotes civic virtues that serve society.

14. Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

15. Financial and Tax Reform. We should establish a democratically regulated and accountable system of public finance that ensures the protection of taxpayer rights and that operates through legal procedures. We need a system by which public revenues that belong to a certain level of government—central, provincial, county or local—are controlled at that level. We need major tax reform that will abolish any unfair taxes, simplify the tax system, and spread the tax burden fairly. Government officials should not be able to raise taxes, or institute new ones, without public deliberation and the approval of a democratic assembly. We should reform the ownership system in order to encourage competition among a wider variety of market participants.

16. Social Security. We should establish a fair and adequate social security system that covers all citizens and ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment.

17. Protection of the Environment. We need to protect the natural environment and to promote development in a way that is sustainable and responsible to our descendents and to the rest of humanity. This means insisting that the state and its officials at all levels not only do what they must do to achieve these goals, but also accept the supervision and participation of non-governmental organizations.

18. A Federated Republic. A democratic China should seek to act as a responsible major power contributing toward peace and development in the Asian Pacific region by approaching others in a spirit of equality and fairness. In Hong Kong and Macao, we should support the freedoms that already exist. With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then, negotiating as equals, and ready to compromise, seek a formula for peaceful unification. We should approach disputes in the national-minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can flourish. We should aim ultimately at a federation of democratic communities of China.

19. Truth in Reconciliation. We should restore the reputations of all people, including their family members, who suffered political stigma in the political campaigns of the past or who have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith. The state should pay reparations to these people. All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released. There should be a Truth Investigation Commission charged with finding the facts about past injustices and atrocities, determining responsibility for them, upholding justice, and, on these bases, seeking social reconciliation.

China, as a major nation of the world, as one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and as a member of the UN Council on Human Rights, should be contributing to peace for humankind and progress toward human rights. Unfortunately, we stand today as the only country among the major nations that remains mired in authoritarian politics. Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises, thereby not only constricting China’s own development but also limiting the progress of all of human civilization. This must change, truly it must. The democratization of Chinese politics can be put off no longer.

Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status, will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this citizens’ movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.

 

Chinese (中文) Version:

1993年11月14日,我和李海、周国强、刘念春、宋书元、沙裕光、陈旅、钱玉民、杨周(何德普负责在外面观察当局的反应以便发生紧急情况时向国际传媒通报故没有进入现场没能当场签署)八位同仁在北京公布了《和平宪章》。
十五年后,也就是2008年12月8日,先期入狱的刘晓波和300余人在北京公布了《零八宪章》。

《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》的基本精神一脉相承,那就是:高扬普世价值,主张人权至上,以实现宪政民主制为宗旨。
有这样几个基本点,它们之间的一切分歧都是枝节问题。
可以说,八百年来,人类历史上出现的所有宪章都是朝这个方向走的,无论是开以民权限制君权先河的13世纪英国的《大宪章》,抑或是为普罗大众争取选举权的19世纪英国的《人民宪章》,还是要求按赫尔辛基条约保障人权的1977年捷克的《七七宪章》,更广泛地说,包括1776年美国的《独立宣言》和1789年法国的《人权宣言》,都是在不同程度上为被统治者争取制约统治者的权利,并且归根结底是为社会大众争取平等的权利和自由。
从这种角度说,我作为先走了一步的当代中国民运尖兵,无条件的拥护《零八宪章》,就像我无条件的拥护以上两个宣言和那些宪章的基本精神一样。

可想而知,一切中国和外国的、过去和未来的高扬普世价值、主张人权至上的宣言和宪章都是特定历史的产物,都会有其局限性,而且,越往历史深处追寻越是如此。
但是另一方面,反过来说,越往历史深处追寻就越具有创造性,其意义就越重大,就像远古时代发明生火对人类社会进步的价值必然大于近人发明蒸汽机一样,因为越是早出的思想观念越具有开拓意义,对后世的影响就越大。

当然具体情况还要具体分析, 说到《和平宪章》,由于特定的艰难条件,它的历史作用主要是打破六四镇压的血腥恐怖,为中国民主运动的再掀高潮铺路,同时作为中国大陆本土的第一个民运纲领性文献为之指明了方向,就它本身的作用而论,并没有起到形成共识、凝聚力量、开创良性互动局面的作用。
在这个方面,《零八宪章》的工作要比《和平宪章》更有成效。

虽然《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》的基本精神一脉相存,两个文本差别却很大。概括的说,这种文本差别主要表现在三个方面:
第一, 前者非常简约,并且主要是就事论事,没有对历史和理论做多少说明,相反,后者相对全面的回顾了近代历史,并且对普世价值的核心概念作了逐条解说。
第二, 前者重点放在和平转型上,后者重点放在对转型结果的诉求上。
第三, 前者注重的是民主转型的启动操作,后者注重的是宪政民主的建构本身。

两个文本为什么会有这些差别?
这既是客观原因所致,也是起草人主体观念、社会经历和文化背景差异的结果,下面,就来对两个宪章的异同进行和一些说明和比较。

首先,两个文本出台的客观环境完全不一样。
8964之后,整个中国笼罩在血雨腥风之中,九州大地夜气如磐万马齐喑,任何政治异议活动都不复存在,几个有点声名的人借美国当局要向本国人民做点交代,发出了一点声音之后立即走为上计,国内还是一遍死寂。在这种情况下,作为一直在公开独立从事民主人权活动的民主墙斗士,本人根据长期的实践经验,首先以开展“反对北京申办奥运”活动来投石问路,试探当前公开开展民主人权活动的空间是否存在,取得一定成效后,就开始了正式运作。
1993年10月中旬,我开始了这一年的第五次北京之行,和原北京大学“学自联”外联部长李海、原北京“工自联”法律顾问周国强二人一起敲定了开展《和平宪章》活动的意向,随即开始寻找合作对象,并得到了刘念春、沙裕光、钱玉民、宋书元、陈旅、何德普等人的大力支持(上海的扬周是签署日由周国强请来的),此外,北京大学法学院的研究生王中秋明确表示参加,他的老师讲师袁红冰则和我作交易,要我先参加他的“劳工权利活动”,然后他再参加《和平宪章》活动。与此同时,我拜访了几十位著名的专家、学者、异议人士,由于对当局的恐惧,这些人大多数都谈虎色变,根本不愿与闻其事,只有个别学者表示了兴趣,但在当局发现蛛丝马迹加以施压的情况下,还是被迫放弃了从文字上加以修改的初衷(然而,这些人中的一部分十五年后签署了《零八宪章》)。

我还两次找了魏京生,第一次是由何德普开面包车和刘念春等人到魏家接了魏京生去宣武区达官营红居五巷,和沙裕光一起在他家附近的餐馆里谈,第二次和周国强王家琪(北京大学法学系研究生)与魏京生魏小涛在他家附近的阜成门烤鸭店,两次当面向他提出邀请,他的回答都是:“这种事当局一‘抵撸’一大串,再说调门也太低。”因此拒绝参加。11月14日出台的当天的第一次会议地点在魏家附近,我又派人找了魏京生,他还是拒绝了我们的邀请。
《和平宪章》出台前,我们还还专门对王丹进行了反复邀请,对他的邀请是由李海负责的,他的回答是:“老魏不去我也不去。”

这里尤其要专门一提的是,刘念春特地向我介绍了刘晓波的情况,说他虽然在64之后说了一些不妥的话,但现在精神状况已经在恢复,不妨去试探一下。这样,在北京城到处找人的过程中,我特地按刘念春提供的地址打开地图寻找“四道口”这个地名。谁知一查,地图上居然有三四个四道口,分别位于不同角落,想想根据介绍动员其出山的可能性实在不大,自己又面对着当局的围追堵截,随时可能遭到不测,就放弃了在全北京城四处寻找他的打算。
就这样,我这个《和平宪章》的起草人,和十五年后的《零八宪章》的名义起草人终于缘吝一面,虽然1996年刘晓波为“双十宣言”劳教时我曾给他的妻子刘霞打过慰问电话。

再从传播媒介上说,当时还没有互联网,没有个人电脑,甚至没有手机,连有线电话也不普及,所以社会动员必须以人对人一对一的进行为主,其难度之大可想而知!在这种情况下,想多联系一个人,就得花几天时间多找几个人,在当局已经警觉,到处对我实施守候抓捕的情况下,想进一步扩大签名范围难上加难不说,拖长了时间还可能胎死腹中。
所以,《和平宪章》是在当局极其残酷的镇压异议人士、全中国人都处于极度恐惧的情况下出台的,加上没有任何通信工具可资利用,也就根本没有向社会大范围扩散,广泛动员人们参与的可能性,此时,我们唯一能够借助的是国际传媒,当时美国之音等还没有受到干扰,虽然我们提前把文本交给了他们,但依靠他们传播这种方式只能在公开后运用,而公开后我第二天就被捕了。

至于《零八宪章》出台的2008年,整个形势已经完全不同。
仅仅是十五年的时间也使六四屠杀的恐惧效应早已消退,何况整个社会已经高度动员起来,在1998年的组党运动、1999年的法轮功运动的冲击下,所有的思想禁区已经打开,社会大众已经高度动员,社会精英顾忌越来越少。尤其是胡温上台之初,面对市场经济条件下由于财富膨胀分配不公导致社会矛盾积聚,官民冲突迅速激化,推行“新政”(这是过誉之词)成为必然选择。在这种背景下,不仅合法的维权运动如火如荼的开展起来,被当局视为非法的“群体性事件”每年也高达数万起,而且呈逐年上升的趋势,许多民众甚至走上了暴力抗争之路。
这样,举国上下敢于出面提出政治要求的人已经不计其数,现在的问题不是驱除恐惧,而是如何用有效方式把那些有民主政治诉求却被当局互相隔绝的社会大众凝聚起来,使其有机会看到我们的纲领性文献,从而表明自己的政治态度,并以各种方式联合起来。

与此同时,2008年的大众通讯工具已经从有线电话发展到无线电话、互联网和个人电脑,几乎一切人之间都可以进行一对一的即时交流,更不要说还形成了一对多众对众的公共交流平台,这样,民间既有的联系网络和大众传播媒介也为宪章的广泛传播提供了良好条件。
所以,《零八宪章》能够传播开来并获得社会的强烈共鸣,是和恐惧高压消退,社会已经普遍觉醒,以及全新公共传播媒介的普及分不开的。
应当说,以上情况主要是决定了两个宪章运动的组织、传播方面的不同。

决定组织、传播不同的因素还有重要一条。
那就是主要当事人主客观条件的差异。
以我和刘晓波的情况为例。
我是武汉人,在北京开展活动受到当局的高度注意和严密防控,而且不可能持久,在当局发现我要进行大规模的政治活动之后,就开始了在北京城全方位的搜查抓捕,因此,一个人月后我不能不尽快把《和平宪章》正式公布,否则就根本没有机会出台了(由此开始当局绝对不让我前往北京,几次为此在火车站拦下来)。
刘晓波虽是辽宁人,却因妻子刘霞的关系长住北京,在北京开展活动相对方便,可以长时间的从容进行前期准备工作,在当局不知不觉下和各方面的有识之士进行交流沟通讨论磋商。

另一方面,我只有小学文凭,却从1966年文革开始就关注政治,1970年就因日记文章和写书打成反革命从而卷入政治,是几十年一贯制的社会活动家,和中下层社会大众与异议人士关系密切,在知识分子和上层人物中缺乏影响力。
比我小五岁的刘晓波1980年代末作为博士和“文坛黑马”横空出世,89民运中以“天安门四君子”横切进入民运领域,因此他卷入政治的时间要比我晚二十年,主要借助从文坛获得的影响以及89民运的助力取得了从事民主运动的高端平台,由于和知识界有天然联系,在文化界艺术界和上层社会打开局面也就相对容易。
我和刘晓波的差别,基本上也是《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》的主要成员班底的差别,这里就不深说了

相应的,我们《和平宪章》人士的知识结构、社会经历、文化背景和《零八宪章》核心人士完全不同。
《和平宪章》人士中,文凭程度最高的是李海,他是北京大学哲学系研究生,其他人基本上没有高等文凭。与此同时,《和平宪章》人士个个都有非比寻常的社会政治活动实践经验:89民运中,李海是北京大学学生自治会对外联络部部长,刘念春是民主墙时代的民办刊物、朦胧派诗歌的摇篮《今天》的编辑,陈旅是民主墙时代的《人权同盟》的主要成员,沙裕光是民主墙时代的民办刊物《中华四五》的编辑,何德普是民主墙时代民办刊物《北京青年》的编辑,杨周是民主墙时代上海最活跃也最早被判刑的民主斗士,周国强也是民主墙时代的《今天》的编辑,并且是89民运中北京“工自联” 的法律顾问,钱玉民则是北京“工自联”的秘书长!所有这些人都有着很长的民主人权活动的实践经历,也几乎都为民主人权事业坐过牢受过迫害。
如果要对《和平宪章》签署人群体做一个最简单的概括,那就是——都是民主人权事业的社会活动家,有着丰富的实践活动经验,相对而言,整体文化素质较低,理论水平较低,我本人更只是一个小学生,这样,草写的宪章蓝本缺乏历史回顾和理论分析是很自然的。

《零八宪章》由于在社会上获得了广泛传播的机会,故上到知识界文化界艺术界,下到访民群众和普罗大众都有大量人员签名。但是,如果我掌握的情况不错的话,那么它的起草人则都是具有高等教育背景的知识分子。不仅刘晓波是博士,夏先生是北京大学教授,张先生是宪政学者,其他参与起草和发起的人也都具有很高的学历背景,从事的也都是知识性工作,由于他们所居地位相对较高,在民主人权活动第一线的公开斗争经验较少,缺乏开展民主人权活动的实践经历 ,因此对宪章的草写缺乏操作性考量,没有想一想自己提出来的东西当局有无理论上的可接受性,没有考虑以目前的力量对比自己拿出的宪章能否让当局狗咬刺猬无处下口。
说到这里,我们再来分析两个宪章的文本差异就比较容易理解了。

如前所述,《和平宪章》的特点是没有过多的进行历史回顾和理论阐述。
我为什么要这样做?
当然因为我给自己的定位是民主人权事业的实践活动家,我要做的是在目前的特定条件下推进中国的民主人权事业,启动民主化进程。
也因为在我看来,中国作为落在全世界最后面的大国面对的民主专制问题已经没有什么深刻的理论可言,一切已经在全世界人面前彰明较著,我不知道今日中国的政治理论有哪一点能够突破发达民主国家提供的理论范式,这不仅指欧美,也包括印度日本韩国菲律宾印度利西亚尤其是台湾,甚至包括许多非洲国家,在这种时代,草写这样一份文件其意义和《七七宪章》及此前的宪章完全不同,《七七宪章》也算在所谓社会主义国家有开创性(其实它和我们开展的民主墙运动基本同时),中国已经落在最后,无论草写一份理论上多么完善的宪章,也不过是重复举世皆知的陈词滥调,绝对不会有任何开创性可言。
在这种情况下,以一个《宪章》作为中国民主转型的纲领,主要不是一个理论武器问题,而是一个操作策略问题。
所以,如何草写一份从当前说当局在社会压力下可能接受,从长远说可以指导中国完成民主化转型任务的宪章,就是我撰写这份文件的基本指导思想。

须知,1997年和1998年当局才签署《经济社会文化权利公约》《公民权利和政治权利公约》,在宪法中加入“国家尊重和保障人权”字样更是几年之后的事情,1993年的当时,当局尚完全不承认人权原则,当然反对的调门也在降低。
应该说,把人权原则作为第一条要求提出来,在这种情况下就已经涵盖了民主世界的一切现代政治的理论精华,与此同时,当局即使一时不会认可,也没有理由高调反对,更不宜以此治罪,至于此后的各条各款,则都有强烈的针对性,都是国人普遍关心的重大问题,也都必然会在人权和正义基础上获得解决。我们把这些条款提出来,只要能在社会上 流布开来,就不难获得有利害关系的广大民众的热烈拥护和积极参与。

当然,这种操作性的宪章不可能面面俱到,这个问题如何解决?
讨论中我指出:这场宪章远动不是到沙漠中更不是到火星上去探险,而是到深林中去旅行,因此,我们没必要一切备足,面面俱到,相反要轻装上阵尽快出发,只要能撬动一个合法化运作的缝隙,其他要求可以随着形势的发展逐步提出。
民主世界公民可以做的一切我们都要做,但是,在当前的特定条件下,我们必须尽量降低要求,以求得合法化运作空间,中国的政治异议活动只要能合法开展,其他一切就可以顺理成章了。

为此,我特地在作为附件的意见书中强调,以后会随时根据需要发布新的文件,这就为该宪章的内容深化扩大留下了充分的余地。
这方面,还有一个策略考量是,古今中外,一切成功的政治运作,都是高度讲究策略,讲究斗争艺术的,无论何时,随时要审时度势,根据力量对比决定自己的政治态势,不宜一开始就把自己的政治诉求都表露出来。用《孙子兵法》的话说:“小敌之坚,大敌之擒也。”“敌则能战之,少则能逃之,不若则能避之”“知可以战与不可以战者胜”。用老子的话说:“图难乎,其易也,为大乎,其细也。”用孔子的话说:“暴虎冯河,死而无悔者,吾不与也,必也临事而惧,好谋而成者也。”从现实政治说,朱元璋曾接受“高筑墙广积粮缓称王”的建议,共产党对国民党、毛泽东对蒋介石的态度变化一直是由实力对比决定的。具体的说,绝对劣势下只能出哀兵。对民主人权事业来说,我们的力量只在于“讲理”,我们需要的是在全面专政下开拓出合法化运作的滩头阵地,否则什么都谈不上。所以,我不主张搞一个高调的、宏大的、强硬的纲领,而要搞得低调些、适中些、柔韧些,就这个时代的情况说,文字上不能叫当局抓到可判刑的字句,至于劳教,没有任何法律可循,因此不在考虑避免之列,果然,后来当局也的确只好把我抓去劳教了两年。

《零八宪章》的做法和考量我不去评价和推测,只指出人所共见的是它把大量篇幅用于新时代的“宏大叙事”
概括的说,《零八宪章》的第一部分“前言”是结合普世价值的经典阐释回顾中国政治现代化转型的百年历史,第二部分“我们的基本理念”是对普世价值的核心概念进行逐条阐释,第三部分“我们的基本主张”是对转型结果的原则概括,第四部分“结语”是对现实的焦虑和致力转型的决心。
可以说,《零八宪章》是“政治正确”的典范,是当今世界普世价值普及的教科书。

不过,它似乎完全无视自己政治对手的存在,完全没有考虑以什么步骤去达到自己的目的,完全没有顾及操作性问题,完全没有想到怎么获取合法的滩头阵地。
儒学经典《大学》有云:“物有本末,事有始终,知所先后,则近道也”,中国近代史上,“戊戌变法”的一大教训,就是不考虑现实政治生态的可承受性,不考虑大国转型必须注意历史进步有其不可跨越的阶段性,不考虑变法过程的可控性,在短短近百日里拿出那么多法律来推行,虽说失败是顽固派发动政变所致,难道和康有为志大才疏没有政治运作能力无关吗?
政治运作不是做学问,不能光考虑理论上的完整性、系统性、纯洁性,而是和对手博弈,必须充分考虑对手的反应,还要根据形势决定先说什么,后说什么,此时此地只能说什么,怎样说才有效益,最重要的是,尤其要弄清楚眼前不能说什么!

关于《零八宪章》,别的方面我不做具体评价,只在这里指出一点,其第三部分第18条在这里出现是否必不可少?
让我们来看看它是怎么说的:
“18、联邦共和:以平等、公正的态度参与维持地区和平与发展,塑造一个负责任的大国形象。维护香港、澳门的自由制度。在自由民主的前提下,通过平等谈判与 合作互动的方式寻求海峡两岸和解方案。以大智慧探索各民族共同繁荣的可能途径和制度设计,在民主宪政的架构下建立中华联邦共和国。”

其实在《和平宪章》中也有类似类容:
“第七、我们呼吁台湾海峡两岸的政府立刻开始直接的对等谈判。我们相信中华民族的凝聚力足以使台湾与大陆和平统一。因此,我们呼吁大陆当局正式放弃武力解决问题的主张,并以同等态度对待台湾的国民党、民进党以及其他政党,在条件成熟时,应当欢迎台湾政党到大陆发展。我们也呼吁台湾朝野各界届时能对等地欢迎包括共产党在内的大陆政党到台湾发展,从而最终完成台湾海峡两岸的社会政治整合。我们也呼吁台湾民进党放弃“台独”主张,积极致力于包括大陆、台湾、港澳在内的全中国民主进步事业。
第八、我们呼吁大陆政府充分尊重香港和澳门人民的自治权利,以主权归中央,治权归地方为原则处理港澳回归祖国后的问题,充分尊重当地人民对社会、政治、经济制度与生活方式的选择。
第九、我们呼吁全国各族人民共同维护中华民族大团结,同时呼吁政府按现代国际标准处理各种少数民族问题,充分尊重各少数民族的民族自决权,放弃以暴力维持大一统的封建观念。”

显然,《零八宪章》是简明扼要,高屋建瓴,大气磅礴。
《和平宪章》则啰啰嗦嗦,低三下四,对“建立联邦制”的要求只是弦外之音,千呼万唤不出来。
联邦制对中国港澳台和少数民族问题的解决当是一个不容回避的办法,但是,目前这个条件下,在这么个纲领性文献中提出来,就涉及一个国体和政体问题。

那么,在民间民主力量没有站稳脚跟之前就提出这样的要求,是否有授人以柄之嫌?是否必然会使当局不给我们以立足之地?
梁启超早已指出,欧洲的民主化是一波波的国民运动造就的,国民运动的要求必须是当局目前可能接受的,提出其绝对不可以接受的要求就等于最后通碟,这种情况下,当局只会以强力镇压,决不会让步。
所以,如果我们意图以和平理性非暴力的方式推进民主化进程,提要求就不能不考虑民主力量自己目前的实力状况、集结状况、合法状况,不能不考虑当局的可接受性。

至于民主力量站住脚了,合法化了,态度可以强硬起来,要求可以不断提高,这是另一码事。就是到那时候,也必须注意分寸,因为彼时当局虽不能抓我们,不能判我们徒刑,也还有个要价太高后人家买不买账,能否达到我们的预期目的问题!
说白了,和平理性非暴力的民主运动,就是一个根据目前的形势和民主力量的实力,和政府当局讨价还价的问题,就是一个虽然不断提高价码但也不断和当局妥协的问题。

我早已把《和平宪章》的原则概括为十六个字:“全民和解,人权为本,良性互动,和平转型。”
全民和解当然首先是官民和解,谈判妥协是和解的基本途径,而我们谈和解不是没有原则的,这个原则就是人权至上,就是要保护包括执政党和政府的一切官僚在内的所有人的人权,也理解和尊重其所有的合理合法的以及由历史造成的特殊的权益和利益,只有在这种基础上,才可能谈和平转型。
在这个框架下,对话、谈判、妥协就成为官民互动的基本特征。
如果我们一开始就把改变国体、政体的要求提出来,当局可能和我们对话吗?可能和我们谈判吗?这样的问题又可能妥协吗?

现在我们来看第二点。
《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》的最大区别,就在于后者只有一个最高价值,那就是“宪章”,也是所追求的结果,这是它从名称上完全承袭《七七宪章》的结果,一个产生于1977年,一个产生于2008年。
《和平宪章》则不同,它有两个价值,中心价值当然也是宪章,即要求回归世界文明主流,奉行人权至上理念,实行宪政民主制,但是在此之外,它还有一个限定词“和平”,也就是强调再以宪政为目的的同时,还要求以和平过渡为原则,也就是不仅要结果正义,而且要过程正义,要求目的和手段相统一,不能为了目的不择手段。
从《和平宪章》问世到今天已经过去了十八年,这十八年里我坐了十四年牢,有人问我改变了和平转型的主张没有,我觉得这是一个没有道理的问题,为了中国人民的最高利益,也因为对当代中国社会进步规律的把握,我认为和平转型是唯一出路,也是必然选择。为此有人居然说我秦永敏不止该只坐二十几年牢,而且应该关两百年!说这话的人对中共政权的寿命太乐观了,显然,这是典型的共产党思维——苦大仇深必然苗红根正,似乎受迫害越多就越主张暴力革命。应该承认,二者的确有正相关,越是无知者越如此,正如毛泽东所说“压迫越深反抗越大”,与此同时,根据法国大革命中产生的《人权宣言》等最重要的人权文献,人民也有反抗暴政推翻政府的权利。

但是,我要指出几点
第一, 从当前说,中共已经掌握了控制国家的超级能力,它的庞大国家机器通过两种手段足以镇压一切和任何暴力反抗的图谋。首先,它的国情监控系统足以查明任何十几个几十个人以上的暴力反抗图谋,所以,规模小了根本不足以撼动中共统治,一切稍有规模的武装反抗中共统治的企图则都不可能不在早期准备中被当局侦破,其次,中国早已不是民众可以“斩木为兵揭竿为旗”既能足以和当局的长矛大刀抗衡并取得胜利的时代,国家暴力足以轻而易举的镇压一切民众的暴力反抗,并且将其真正从肉体上“消灭在萌芽状况”。从这种情况来看,一切暴力革命、武装反抗推翻中共统治的做法都是自寻死路愚不可及。

第二, 中国已经不是二十世纪上半叶的中国,那时中国刚开始进入工业革命时代,大批失地农民成了中共煽动暴力夺取政权的最好愚弄对象,赤贫农民也还和几千年王朝循环时期的农民一样,反正没饭吃,狠下一条心,要么死了拉倒,要么打进京城坐江山。今日中国的社会大众包括农民接受了中共利用大众尤其是农民打江山,打下江山加倍欺压大众和农民的教训,也因为市场经济发展使大多数人有了一点财产,就都希望守着自己的财产过日子,通过自己的劳动一点点的改善生活,不会再受革命家的蛊惑去为成功之将当万具枯骨,还因为这个时代已经成了人人都可以娱乐至死的时代,再穷的人也可以守着个电视机影碟机看个不停,也没有多少人有衣食之虞,故已经没有几个人会铤而走险。总之,凡是在中国大陆的人都清楚,今日中国并不存在能够发动起来进行暴力革命的社会大众

第三, 当然,今天确实有不少聪明人在煽动暴力革命,却绝不担心自己性命难保,因为他们都在国外煽动国内的人这么做,或者在国内躲在无人得知的地方匿名在互联网之类的地方煽动别人这么做,他们惯于让别人去冒风险, 让别人去丧命,他们自己是绝不会在中国大陆本土公开从事他们所号召的暴力革命的。前段时间闹得沸沸扬扬的“革命”鼓噪中,我就亲历了这样一件事:国外某个激进团体派人在网上动员我发动人们这么做的同时,他人在海外尚且还怕我看见了真面目,视屏对话中居然还要把自己藏起来!这么做的人还不聪明至极么?让国内的人去送死,他们是绝对安全的,但这么做的结果能达到他们的“伟大革命目标”?所以,对这些煽动暴力革命的人我要说,如果你在国外,请你回来搞,如果你在国内,请你公开搞,如果你煽动别人,请你亲自搞!几十年来我坚持民主人权活动的同时坚持“和平、理性、非暴力”,并且一直首当其冲身体力行,希望那些煽动搞暴力革命的人也如我知行合一,当尖兵滚地雷始终冲在最前面。

第四, 况且历史的教训早已告诉我们,暴力夺权者必然暴力掌权,绝不会给国家社会带来民主自由,相反,历史的经验充分证明,自由是一波一波的国民运动争得的,民主是在选举制度的实施中一步步发展成熟的,绝不是暴力革命革出来的,暴力革命在最好的情况下也只是赶走了独裁者,从而为建立民主自由的社会开辟道路,更多的则是被野心家利用,是社会在流血漂杵之后还是无法迅速建立民主制度。

第五, 从我们中国的国家、社会、大众的根本利益来说,也只有和平转型是唯一选择。和平转型对国家、社会、大众的利益损害最小,这是就客观效果说;人民不会起来暴力革命,只会起来和平表达意愿,这是从原因上说。对当局而言,暴力革命意味着他们的毁灭,因此只会不计代价的镇压,和平转型以承认他们的许多既得利益为前提,在一定条件下,也就是在民众压力够大,反对派组织够强,同时做法也够温和理性的情况下,当局是完全可以接受的。关于这一点,就涉及到“转型正义”。正义是让一切人随时随地得其所应得,转型正义就是在转型过程中随时随地确保统治者方面的人身财产权利不受侵犯,对其过去在特定历史条件下的罪恶,可以清查,但要赦免——这就是“第一次宽恕”。也就是说,为了和平转型,必须对统治者进行“赎买”,用确保他们的部分特权,同等保障他们的全部人权,来逐步交换他们所掌握的统治权。

第六, 反对和平转型原则的人第一条理由是中共当局犯下了那么多反人类罪,至今还在无恶不作,因此中国没有任何和平转型的希望。在我看来,说中共比德国法西斯还坏证据充分,说中国不能和平转型则毫无道理。中共最残酷的罪行是毛泽东仿效苏联犯下的,邓小平“复辟资本主义”以后一代代又犯了不少反人类罪,但是,毕竟一代比一代要理性一点,总体上说做的孽少一点,再加上他们已经从暴力夺权意识形态至上的军事强人换成了锦衣玉食的天潢贵胄和谨小慎微的技术官僚,其现实利益已经向金钱至上利益至上转化,意识形态是不能谈判不能分割的,所以以前的确无法指望其接受普世价值,现在的基本情况已经完全不同,金钱至上意味着利益至上,而利益是可以切割的。这样,就像台湾的民主转型和对“228”事件的认罪只能发生在蒋氏父子死后一样,到有重大血债的死得差不多了以后,新的统治者在全民压力下被迫和平转型是必然的,因为那时候他们确保既得利益的办法将不再是把持保不住的绝对权力,在能确保其生命财产安全的前提下,当然是顺应历史潮流。

另外,要强调,和平转型的基点绝不是当局开皇恩大赐,而是全民的觉醒和民主人权力量的强大。
和平转型是民主人权力量的理性诉求,是民运领袖作为历史创造者必须坚持的“为万世开太平”的胸怀气度,这并不是说,有了这种指导思想,转型过程中就绝对不会发生暴力,《和平宪章》指出,转型不可避免,区别只在于暴力和非暴力,非暴力转型的一个前提就是当局必须有足够的理性。
这就是说,统治者越理性,转型就越和平,统治者越不理性,转型的暴力性就越强,这是被历史充分证明了的定则。今年以来阿拉伯世界的民主变命风潮再次印证了这一点,突尼斯相对平和,埃及也还不太爆烈,绝世狂人独裁暴君统治的利比亚则以屠杀导致内战,它怎么可能不被该国人民彻底清算?

此外,无论民主人权力量多么理性,由于统治者作恶太多,在和平转型过程中出现一定数量的和局部的暴力事件必不可免。尤其是中国这样一个大国,本来情况就高度复杂,再加上地方政府黑社会化,多年来激起的民变数量直线上升,一年达十几万起,迄今已发生几十起官逼民反导致民众捣毁县市政府的重大事件,因此转型中没有暴力事件相伴是天方夜谭。对此,我们的原则第一是完全理解但坚决反对,第二要求妥善处理,防止事态恶化,第三,要求各方克制,控制事态发展,全力避免形成全局性及全国性的暴力冲突。

当然我们要大力强调,当局对防止形成全国性暴力事件暴力对抗负有不可推卸的责任,毫无疑问,局面恶化到这种地步只能是当局维持专制高压所致,它也必须对此负完全责任。
但是,,就和平转型这个历史性课题而言,作为为万世开太平的历史创造者,民主阵营的领袖和核心集团必须未雨绸缪,拿出切实可行的方案来。

与此同时,解铃还须系铃人,当局更必须拿出令人信服的和平转型诚意来。
这两个方面是不可偏废的。
《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》对转型过程和转型正义上的重视程度不啻天壤的区别,导致了二者的第三个差别,那就是《和平宪章》重点谈转型的启动操作,《零八宪章》重点谈宪政民主的建构。
《和平宪章》只提出了“实行多元化民主政治”的基本主张,并且要求在大量进行各种双边和多边会谈的基础上举行圆桌会议,因此,对未来的国体和政体未置一词,也就乏善可陈,认为先进民主国家已经有足够多的经验可资借鉴,具体决定则是全民和解过程中圆桌会议讨论并交由全民公决的事情,就像中共当局没有资格单独决定一样——任何离开全民公决单独决定的宪政章程都必然缺乏权威性,因而不可能不留下无穷后患。

《零八宪章》把当代民主国家宪政制度的基本原则一一罗列出来,可以说洋洋大观完整系统。
不过,对其排列方式在下颇有疑问。
本人专门研究过人权观念的成长和发展,对人类历史上各种权利的出现作了排列研究,发现了这么一些要点:
人权是抽象的原则性的,是政治概念,它的对象包括一切人,涵盖包括一切已有的和未来可能有的即潜在的权利,对人类来说它是一个周延性概念。这就决定了人权观念一问世就有极其强大的生命力,成为一切被压迫者争取平等权利的强大的思想武器。人权观念是欧洲启蒙运动时期产生的,或者说是信基督教的白皮肤的欧洲男人发明的。随后其他宗教的人,美洲的黑皮肤人、亚洲的黄皮肤人、全世界的女人也纷纷接过来。
经过了几百年时间,到联合国《世界人权宣言》问世之时,它就成了这样一个经典表述:

“第一条
人人生而自由,在尊严和权利上一律平等。他们赋有理性和良心,并应以兄弟关系的精神相对待。
第二条
人人有资格享有本宣言所载的一切权利和自由,不分种族、肤色、性别、语言、宗教、政治或其他见解、国籍或社会出身、财产、出生或其他身分等任何区别。
并且不得因一人所属的国家或领土的政治的、行政的或者国际的地位之不同而有所区别,无论该领土是独立领土、托管领土、非自治领土或者处于其他任何主权受限制的情况之下。”

但是,联合国的规定是一码事,现实又是一码事,其实,它对世界各国只是一种软约束(当然今天的欧盟除外,由于它的先进发达成熟,和《世界人权宣言》相应的《欧洲人权公约》在欧盟范围内已是硬约束,高于所有成员国的法律)。
原因在于,和人权不同,权利是法律概念。法律不规定,该法律系统下辖的民众就肯定没有相应的权利。法律规定了以后,则成了字面上的东西,是否能兑现,也不是绝对的。只有在全民出面来运用那些权利,并且以强大的压力迫使当局兑现的情况下,才能成为社会生活的直接现实。

所以,权利首先必须写进法律,这是使它从形式上获得认可的一环,也是使它得以实行的必要条件。
与此同时,字面上的法定权利并不是民众拥有该项权利的充分条件,这种充分条件是:从法律上拥有该权利的一切人在社会上行动起来,坚决勇敢顽强持续的维护它们、捍卫它们、运用它们。

与此同时,在人类历史上,人权观念的普及是和各项权利的逐步制定和实施相应的,也就是说,权利不是一股脑儿产生的,而是有个逐项被各国的先贤们想到、提出、立法、实施的过程,而且,越往早去,产生和提出越难,每项权利提出的间隔越大。
更重要的是,它们不是哪一个国家的哪一个先贤完整系统的提出的,而是许多不同的国家的人在不同时代,根据本国当前的社会生活需要,在其他国家的人已经提出的其他的权利的基础上一个个增添出来的。
这就是为什么梁启超说欧洲的民主自由是一波一波的国民运动带来的,国民运动可以断续,但要持续的原因。
这里,我们首先要感谢的是世界近代史上的第一个现代共和国,由今天的荷兰一带的市民建立的尼德兰共和国,它于1581年发布了近代人类历史上第一个有关权利的法令,宣布言论自由权和男子的私有财产权受法律保护。
可以说,这个最早最简单的权利法令也是最英明的权利法令,因为私有财产权是一切社会和经济权利的基础,没有私有财产权公民在社会生活中就没有立足之地,而言论自由权又是一切公民权利和政治权利的前提,“口将言而嗫嚅”的社会里有何公民权利可言?又如何去过问政治?
说到这里不能不遗憾的指出,中共政权建立后迄今为此不仅从事实上完全剥夺了中国人民的言论自由权(言论自由度虽然一直在扩大),而且剥夺私有财产权半个世纪后迄今为止也没有给中国人民以完全的私有财产权——没有土地私有权,物权法就是一个跛足法律。

近百年以后,也就是1776年,美国诞生后,人类才第一次有了“有财产的白人男子在全国选举中的投票权”!
再从美国来看,其各项权利也有一个漫长的产生、制定过程。
由于一开始其他法律承袭了英国的,这样,在1795年才出台了以下三项法律:
1 白人男子的私有财产权
2 言论自由权
3 信仰自由权
至于已婚妇女的私有财产权,则迟滞到1905年才出台,
妇女的投票权,迟滞到1921年出台,
所有民族和种族在全国选举中的投票权直到1970年才出台!

应当说明,社会权利概念到是当时最专制的德国在俾斯麦统治下搞“三部大法安天下”于1883年出台的,其制定的第一种社会权利是工人工伤补偿方面的,相应的的法律美国则到1912年才制定。
反观中国,民国时代就几乎制定出了当时几乎所有先进家所有的权利法律,但大多数并没有落实。
至于中共政权成立之后,更将包括私有财产权和言论自由权在内的一切权利剥夺殆尽,与此同时,为了欺世盗名宪法则从形式上始终保留言论自由权。

所以,我们今天面临的现实是:必须把欧美发达国家自从1581年以来在四百多年里头陆续创化出来、也几乎为中华人民共和国宪法统统规定了,但却被中共当局统统剥夺了的所有权利都讨回来。
另一方面,无数事实告诉我们,权利的实现不可能是一个平面,不可能起步走,不可能没有一个先后顺序,有些权利必须先行,有些权利不能不缓一步,无论我们怎么要求当局全部归还,在现实生活中我们还是要考虑哪些项目必须优先必须靠前,那些项目只能后延只能等待条件具备。
这一点,正是《大学》教导我们的“物有本末,事有始终,知所先后,则近道也”,也就是《和平宪章》强调可操作性的原因。
就是说:《和平宪章》提到的方案未必是对的,更不会是最佳的,但是,中国的民主化进程,和设计宪政民主制度的建构,必须有一个科学合理的次序方案,这一点是不容质疑的。

那么,中国民主化进程所需的最基本顺序是什么?
15年过去,《和平宪章》当年的主张不一定适用,要求可能太低了一点,那时主要致力要求言论出版结社三项权利,而建议将游行集会示威暂缓,现在则当然要求全面兑现公民权利!
但是,政治权利方面还是应该有一个逐步渐进的过程。
比方说,在没有进行过基层选举、没有自由政党, 或者基层选举还没有坚实的基础、自由政党还没有充分运作的情况下,能够搞好全国领导人和国会的选举吗?
在这种情况下,推动中国民主化进程的领军人物,和中国民主制度的设计者,是否应该“把马克思主义的普遍真理和中国革命的具体实践相结合”?是否应该考虑如何按照客观需要和可能科学的有效地按部就班的推进民主化进程?是否应该阐明中国宪政民主制度建构的程序和步骤?
固然,当局的阻碍使其不可能没有很多变数,但是,当局的作用又为什么不是这个设计蓝图中周密考虑过的一个因素呢?

这就要求我们充分意识到:
第一,中国的宪政民主和当前的制度之间应该没有一条不可逾越的鸿沟,就是有,也需要我们在二者之间架起一道坚实的桥梁。
第二,中共当局则不仅是我们的对手,也应该是我们共建宪政的因素,即使它目前不是,我们也必须把它变成共建宪政的因素
第三,无论我们怎么对中共暴政深恶痛觉,中共本身还是代表百分之几的中国人,在宪政中国他们必将是多元化政治力量中的一员,这股政治势力即使会在几十年后消亡,也应该是一个民主生态下的自然历史过程,而不能用违反人权原则的方法强行驱散,何况它们今天仍然是执政党,它们仍然垄断着国家政权,在这种情况下,我们草拟中国走向民主化的大纲,似乎没法不把中共当局作为博弈对象,不能不把它作为一个共建宪政民主的一个有着巨大变数的复杂因素考虑进去。
无论是非对错好坏优劣,这,或许就是《和平宪章》和《零八宪章》的不同之处。

2011.7.8

附:和平宪章(草案)

(十几年来,大陆上的经济体制发生了巨大变化,对此我们深表赞赏 。然而,正如当代世界历定事实已充分表明的,市场经济的迅猛发展必然要求实行多元化的民主政治。鉴于当前世界结束冷战,走向新秩序,鉴于所有中国人都关注中国未来的和平发展,我们特提出本宪章。)

古今中外政治制度转型的各种先例,使我们不能不对中国下阶段的历史进程忧心忡忡。既然多元化民主政治是不可阻挡的历史必然,那么,我们不能不问:这一进程在中国究竟将以和平方式还是以非和平方式进行?
我们深信,中国大陆政府当局中,有历史洞察力的人士也同样认识到了上述问题及其迫切性,因此,历史的经验教训,尤其是前苏联和东欧正反两方面的先例,完全足以使我国大陆仍然充满对立情绪的朝野各方达这种共识:

中国大陆从一元化走向民主政治的历史性变革,只有在政府当局有诚意的情况下,从上而下地程序化地和平进行,才能将其负面影响——即对民众社会经济生活的破坏作用,降到最低限度!
应当指出,浩浩荡荡的世界潮流,国际上空前强大的民主力量,不仅使中国的和平变革成为众望所归,也使之获得了各种必要的条件——今天的国际国内形势,无论从哪方面说,绝不容许“六•四“那样的惨案重演,与此同时,正义和理性也不希望”六•四“之前的社会管理失控状况发生。

当前问题的关键在于,这一变革必将使中国社会的上层阶级和某此既得利益者受到了一定的冲击,从而使他们对变革持消极、拒斥态度;同时,一些现制度的受害阶层及个人,也难免出现偏激情绪。这两种情况,均在一定程度上对和平地程序化地政治转型产生消极作用。
至于台湾海峡两岸的问题,其关键显然并不在于以什么方式,在什么时候统一,而在于以什么为基础,在什么共识上统一。
在上述历史背景下,我们作为中国公民,满怀伟大的使命感,斗胆站出来呼吁全国朝野上下:
让我们以“全民的利益高于一切”为原则,捐弃前嫌,互敬互让,折中妥协,共商国是,实现中华民族大和解,以求在平和稳妥的方式下,一起来完成中国大陆的政治制度转型,以及台湾海峡两岸的和平统一大业!
我们特别提醒朝野各界,为了避免矛盾的激化,导致必然来临的政治变革进程失去控制,从而使国家陷入无政府状况,造成持续的社会动荡,以及内战乃至割据局面,有关各方从现在开始,便应采取一切可能的方法来防患于未然。特别是中国大陆政府当局,尤其有责任尽早采取主动措施,逐步缓和局面,抓住目前的有利时机,自觉顺应历史发展规律,否则,便必须对可能出现的上述各种局面负最大的历史责任。

为了避免中国下阶段的政治历史再次重蹈近百年的恶性怪圈,我们在充分考虑到海峡两岸朝野各方的共同利益,特别是它们各自的特列殊利益的前提下,特向海峡两岸的政府,当然首先是大陆政府,向包括海峡两岸及港澳和少数民族在内的全体中国人和海外同胞,向海内外一切致力于社会进步的团体,郑重地推荐以下具有可操作性的全民和解程序:

第一、我们认为,大陆政府代表中国作为联合国安理会的常任理事国,有义务遵守联合国有关人权问题的一切决议,并应该从以当代国际标准保障中国人民的人权入手,立刻制定与当代各民主国家类等的人身、言论、通信、出版、集会、结社(含开放党禁)、游行、示威、罢工以及公民自由出入国境等方面的法规,立刻废除“反革命罪”,并在国际监督和国际国内與论督促下严格执行。
作为一种善意的回应,我们呼吁民众将自己不可让渡的集会、游行、示威权利,在一段不长的时间内停留在当局目前的法律水平上,以减少由政府主导的和平过渡起步阶段的社会震荡。

第二、我们呼吁大陆政府当局拿出驾驭历史性变革的宏大气魄,从速制定并实施从一元化到多元化,进而建立和健全民主政治的战略措施,从而创造使大陆的政治制度转型过程始终处于中央政府可以控制和调节的范围内的条件。

第三、在大陆政府承认上两条的前提下,我们呼吁全体民众和海内外一切进步力量,尊重大陆政府是唯一有可能主导大陆和平变革的主要力量这一事实,积极主动地与他们合作,提供各种具有可操作性的建设性建议,搁置那些无关宏旨的利害冲突,力争与当局之间形成一种良性互动关系,从而共同推动和解进程。

第四、我们督促大陆政府首先做出第一个必要的和解姿态,那就是立即平反“六•四”事件,释放因“六•四”和其他原因入狱的一切政治犯,不分政治信念和派别,给所有“六•四”遇难者及其他政治受害者或家属发放适量抚恤金。
我们呼吁受难者家属与社会各界,在大陆政府真正表现出和解诚意的时候,拿出向前看的态度,不再追究“六•四”和以往各种政治事件的一般责任。

第五、我们呼吁中共及其政府解除一切对政治流亡者的法律禁令,允许流亡国外的一切学生、学者、工运人士和其他人回国。
我们坚信,中国的问题只能靠中国人自己在中国本土解决。因此,我们呼吁一切真正有志于献身祖国的人,立即回国参加中国的经济现代化和政治民主化建设。

第六、以现代国际标准制定与实施结社法并开放党禁之日,就是海内外一切非暴力政治社团与政党可以合法注册之时,届时,各社团与政党均应勇跃到有关部门去登记注册。今天,我们则呼吁各方以公开性、合法性与非暴力为原则,有策略有艺术地开展不会造成社会秩序动荡的思想运动,以此作为争取人权和民主运动所应有的最低限度的压力方式。在能够合法注册之后,当然也应以此为原则。

第七、我们呼吁台湾海峡两岸的政府立刻开始直接的对等谈判。我们相信中华民族的凝聚力足以使台湾与大陆和平统一。因此,我们呼吁大陆当局正式放弃武力解决问题的主张,并以同等态度对待台湾的国民党、民进党以及其他政党,在条件成熟时,应当欢迎台湾政党到大陆发展。我们也呼吁台湾朝野各界届时能对等地欢迎包括共产党在内的大陆政党到台湾发展,从而最终完成台湾海峡两岸的社会政治整合。我们也呼吁台湾民进党放弃“台独”主张,积极致力于包括大陆、台湾、港澳在内的全中国民主进步事业。

第八、我们呼吁大陆政府充分尊重香港和澳门人民的自治权利,以主权归中央,治权归地方为原则处理港澳回归祖国后的问题,充分尊重当地人民对社会、政治、经济制度与生活方式的选择。

第九、我们呼吁全国各族人民共同维护中华民族大团结,同时呼吁政府按现代国际标准处理各种少数民族问题,充分尊重各少数民族的民族自决权,放弃以暴力维持大一统的封建观念。

第十、在以上各条被各方,当然首先是被大陆政府基本接受的基础上,我们建议从速召开包括大陆、台湾、港澳、少数民族以及海内外朝野各界人士在内的圆桌会议,共同讨论并决定中国下阶段的和平变革与海峡两岸的和平统一问题。当然,根据客观情况的需要,可以先做许多双边或多边的预备性会谈,并分专题分别举行和平变革或两岸统一的圆桌会议。
我们相信,上述建议不仅符合中国人民的根本利益,也是中国下阶段历史的理性要求。我们特别要求大陆政府理解我们的善意,接受我们的全民和解主张。

我们呼吁所有的中国人和全世界的炎黄子际与我们一起来联名表达希望大陆实现和平的政治转型、希望海峡两岸实现和平统一的共同意愿。
《和平宪章》是一切认同本宪章的海内外中国人不分政治派别组成的自由而公开的非正式团体,它以个人和集体的努力,为和平过渡到一个多元化的政治力量并存的民主的统一的中国,而开展各种公开的合法活动。
《和平宪章》欢迎海内外同意其观点的人以各种有效方式支持和参加它的工作——发起签名运动,进行广泛的宣传,以及在当今宪法和法律允许并保障的范围内开展的其他活动。

《和平宪章》极端重视和尊重这样一个事实,中共及其政府是唯一能主导大陆和平地完成从一元化转型到多元化民主政治的主要社会力量,真诚地希望能促成其肩负起这一沉重的历史任务,并强烈敦促它不要错过最后的机会。
《和平宪章》所提出的各条措施,只是我们在当前情况下所能看到的具有可操作性的一些步骤,对这些抛砖引玉的看法没有过分拘泥的必要。但我们坚信,本宪章主张在现政府主导下实现程序化的和平变革的精神,不仅符合中国人和大陆政府的最大利益,而且是当代中国唯一理性的抉择。

《和平宪章》签署人包括各界人士,他们共同作为本宪章的发起人对该宪章承担责任,同时,他们推举出三位发言人,在和台湾海峡两岸的政府的讨论中,在国内外的公共场合全权代表《和平宪章》。该宪章颁布的文件依其重要性程度,由签署人或仅仅由发言人签名生效。全体签署人均有义务接受各界人士的签名,与有志于本宪章的各界人士一起来开展各项活动,执行特定的任务,并共同承担全部责任。

让我们和全体中国人一道,为中国大陆的和平变革与海峡两岸的和平统一而努力!

起草人:秦永敏

关于《和平宪章》(草案)的意见书

我们——所有关注中国大陆政治制度和平转型与海峡两岸和平统一的朋友,作为本意见书的签字人,与《和平宪章》(草案)的起草人,于1993年11月14日,在北京举行了关于《和平宪章》(草案)的讨论会,大家原则上同意《和平宪章》(草案)的基本思想。
本建议的所有签字人决定,责成《和平宪章》(草案)的起草人在广泛听取社会各界意见的基础上,对之进行充实、修政和完善,经进一步讨论后通过。
考虑到中国当前的形势,签字人一致同意,自《和平宪章》公布之日起,就在北京、上海、武汉等地设立联系人,并就《和平宪章》向社会广泛征集意见。所有签字人都有义务征集意见。一旦《和平宪章》正式通过,所有签字人自动成为它的正式签署人,此前所有征集到的有签名意向的人,则自动成为《和平宪章》的正式签名人。

《和平宪章》(草案)的联系人暂定为:
1、北京市朝阳区三里屯北区南20楼一门12号
刘念春 邮编:100027
2、上海市黄浦区外滩街道人民路558号
杨周 邮编:200002 电话:3732605
3、武汉市青山区红钢城21街坊4门2号
秦永敏 邮编:430080

本“意见书”签字人:周国强、秦永敏、宋书元、杨周、刘念春、陈旅、李海、钱玉民、沙裕光

一九九三年十一月十四日

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